Barring any last minute development, the non-academic staffers of Nigerian universities will embark on a week-long warning strike to express their displeasure over the non-implementation of an agreement it reached with the federal government in 2009.
The three unions, Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities (SSANU), National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) and Non Academic Staff Union of Universities, Educational Research Institutions (NASU), cited issues in dispute over which it is embarking on the warning strike to include; the 65 years retirement age, improvement in the funding level of universities, earned allowances and career structure for Technologists Contiss 14 and 15.
The unions also seemed angered by the alleged manner in which the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Emeka Wogu treated them when he failed to turn up at a scheduled negotiation meeting last week Thursday.
Briefing journalists yesterday in Abuja, the president of NAAT, Mr. Abdulateef Jokomba, who spoke on behalf of the three unions, alleged that the amendment of the universities (miscellaneous provisions) Act 11 of 1993, if allowed, would have further decimated the various groups in the university system, hence its rejection.
The unions therefore issued the federal government a September 30 deadline to sign the version of the law that takes the concerns of all the stakeholders in the education sector into consideration, else it will embark on an unprecedented strike action.
According to Jokomba, Ã¢â‚¬Å“We have, as law abiding unions, written to the Government of the Federation copying the National Assembly and other key agencies of government that should the bill remain unsigned by 30th September, 2011, and other contending issues raised remain unattended to, members of the three unions – NAAT, SSANU and NASU – shall commence a nationwide seven (7) days warning strike from 3rd to 9th October 2011 as a prelude to a total and indefinite full-blown industrial action.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The aggrieved three unions also said, in the agreement signed with government, there is a proviso that whenever there is a general wage review, that of the varsity workers must be reviewed alongside.
They regretted that since the minimum wage law was signed into law, neither Nigeria Universities Commission ((NUC) nor the Ministry of Education has called them for a meeting on how to implement the wage for the benefit of their members.
He said, Ã¢â‚¬Å“The various unions’ agreements has a proviso in the agreements that whenever there is a general increase in public sector’s salaries and allowances, the remuneration of non-academic staff shall be correspondingly increased. The minimum wage approved for Nigerian workers commenced in August 2011. Expectedly, the unions should have by now been invited for necessary briefing. Neither the Federal Ministry of Education nor the National Universities Commission (NUC) has spoken on this.”
Also, the president of SSANU, Samson Ugwoke, called on eminent and goodwill Nigerians to appeal to the Federal Government to open a credible line of discussion saying. He stated that, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Government should not dare us this time because we are fully mobilised for this strike. We will not surrender until all our demands are met. This is the time to appeal to government on this issue before 3rd October when the warning strike will commence and then the full-blown strike.Ã¢â‚¬Â